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The Bookshelf that built Ben Johns' Backhand

by The Dink Media Team on

Did you catch this hidden gem from Collin Johns on the PicklePod? It's one of the more interesting facts in pickleball lore.

Ben and Collin would play table tennis for hours in the Johns’ basement while growing up. The way the table was arranged, a bookshelf pinned one player (usually Ben) behind the table so he couldn't move to his left.

This forced him to take more backhands and be more aggressive with those backhands. It was essential training for Ben's infamous backhand roll, one of the most dominant shots in the game today.

When it comes to rolls, there’s no better practice than table tennis. The smaller ball is easier to spin and the rubber-faced paddles generate more friction. It’s like training wheels for developing your roll.

The dimensions for hitting a backhand roll are almost exactly the same as a backhand in table tennis. Both nets peak at 36 inches off the ground.

Half of the ping pong table is 54 inches long. If you lean over the kitchen line to hit a roll, you might be striking a ball at the exact same distance from the net.

Your homework is to dust off the ping-pong table or at least track down a paddle and ping-pong ball. Instead of hitting a normal backhand, simulate your backhand roll.

Start with the paddle tip down and exaggerate the brush up the back of the ball. Your backhand roll will never feel the same.

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